Video highlights: The Distributors ‘Thrive’ Conference

The Distributors held its ‘Thrive’ National Conference and Trade Show last week against the stunning backdrop of Port Douglas, Queensland.

More than 200 delegates made their way to the Sheraton Grand Mirage, to network, network, learn, create new experiences, and have some fun.

Members, customers, and suppliers of The Distributors were welcomed to the Sheraton Grand Mirage in Port Douglas with a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony performed by a local elder, followed by welcome drinks and a dinner sponsored by Mondelēz. Attendees were treated to a thought-provoking presentation from Gus Balbontin.

Day Two began with an optional Mind Movement activity sponsored by Shine followed by the opening of conference sessions.

The theme of ‘Thrive’ was prevalent from start to finish, during the business sessions, each with their own take away messages for delegates to apply to their own businesses.

The business session began on Wednesday with George Tsapoutas, CEO, The Distributors, providing an update on the group’s performance over the past 12 months.

Tsapoutas highlighted that the group continues to deliver significant volume growth across all core categories of snacking, beverages, and confectionery, and across all states and territories.

Theo Foukkare, CEO, AACS, then shared insights from the recently released 2022 AACS State of the Industry Report, highlighting the strong growth of the convenience channel delivering more than 7.4 per cent growth.

Foukkare provided insights into the huge growth being delivered in the Food and Beverage segment, now accounting for 53 per cent of total shop sales and growing at more than 16.4 per cent.

Foodservice had its sixth year of strong double-digit growth as retailers continue to invest in their offers, growing at more than 21 per cent and contributing almost $1.2 billion in sales.

Packaged beverages also had a strong year growing at +16.4 per cent, which was driven by the energy category, up +26 per cent on now accounting for 33 per cent of total beverages.

Karen Campbell from MyBrandz Software shared its soon to be launched new App, My BrandzX – a customised retailer ordering system that is integrated into member warehouses to make ordering more streamlined and give time back.

Closing out the business session was Australia’s very own Olympian and World Champion, Jacqui Cooper. Cooper represented Australia in the sport of Aerial Skiing for 20 years, and she shared her story from the young age of four, and the wild 10-year plan that she followed to become a world champion.

Cooper shared all the highs and lows from her epic career, and how she wouldn’t have been able to achieve all that she did without an unwavering belief in herself and her abilities. She said the key to winning it to learn to eliminate the noise around you, stay committed and dedicated to your goals irrelevant of obstacles that are thrown. Her story was truly inspiring and left all delegates ready to tackle any challenge ahead.

The ‘speed dating’ style of the trade show returned this year following its successful introduction in 2022, giving suppliers the opportunity to sit down with customers and explain their product in depth.

The third and final day began with an optional activity of a Rise and Shine walk through Port Douglas to watch the sunrise over the ocean. This was sponsored by Tonik, with Lisa Schilling-Thomson and Cheryl O’Brien from Halo Food Co guiding the way.

The final night was The Distributors Cane Cutters Ball and Awards ceremony held in a hauntingly spectacular setting amongst the tall cane fields.

Awards winners:

Supplier of the Year – Better for You: Bounce

Online Trade Show Best E-commerce Result: Accredited Distributors Geelong

Most Outstanding Online Sales Result: Nestlé

Best Supplier DIFOT Award: Bundaberg Brewed Drinks

Supplier of the Year up to $5m: Sanitarium Health Food Company

Supplier of the Year up to $10m: Australian International Traders

Best Product Launch Beverage: Red Bull The Purple Edition

Best Product Launch Snack: Burger Man Saucee Original (Snackbrands Australia)

Best Product Launch Confectionery: Darrell Lea Lifesavers Hangsell Range

Best Product Launch Novelty: Chupa Chups Jurassic Park

Supplier of the Year over $20m: Snackbrands Australia

Supplier of the Year over $50m: The Smith’s Snackfood Company

Sales Representative of the Year: Renee Creasey (Central Coast Confectionery)

Member of the Year under $18m: Central Coast Confectionery

Member of the Year $18m and above: The Distributors Brisbane

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